House panel advances Snyder bill on minors’ health services

H.B. 381 would clarify when consent is needed for mental health exams

HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the House Human Services Committee today approved her legislation that would eliminate confusion over when a minor’s consent is needed for mental health examinations and other health services.

“I have pursued this legislation ever since I learned of a family’s difficulties securing mental health treatment for their child and being stymied by the confusion surrounding the mental health law affecting minors,” Snyder said. “We must not allow confusion over minor’s rights to impede treatments that are sometimes needed desperately and swiftly.”

House Bill 381, voted unanimously out of committee and sent to the full House for consideration, would enable the state Department of Human Services to issue updated guidelines regarding minors’ consent to mental health treatments and specify the conditions when a minor’s consent is needed.

“The goal is to provide for more uniform application of the standards so recovery-oriented programs can be implemented more quickly,” Snyder said. “My measure would clarify the regulations so mental health professionals can work more expediently and effectively when circumstances dictate.”

Snyder said she has introduced similar legislation previously, and last session’s version was passed unanimously in the House but no action was taken on it in the Senate.

“Changes made in 2004 to the Minor Consent to Medical, Dental, and Health Services Act created the confusion, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible,” Snyder said. “There is no excuse for letting the confusion fester.”